Kentucky football recruiting 2014: Wildcats making recruiting strides

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After several years near the bottom of the conference recruiting rankings, Kentucky is making a climb.

Kentucky has finished 12th or lower in the SEC recruiting rankings every year since 2008. New head coach Mark Stoops is looking to change that, as the Wildcats are in significantly better position than they have been in years past.

Their 2014 class ranks 16th in the country, a marked improvement from 49th in 2012 and 34th in 2013. How does 16th in the country rank in the SEC, however? Just ninth -- but that's above Arkansas, Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

Kentucky's class has been basically set for a while, as two-star JuCo athlete Michael Mathis' early September commitment made it 24 players committed to Stoops and the Wildcats.

Top 'Cats

Drew Barker is the jewel of the Kentucky class. The quarterback from Conner (Ky.) High School is considered a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is rated as the sixth-best pro-style quarterback in the country and the best player in the state.

Denzel Ware is one of the top prospects for the Wildcats. The defensive end from Crestview (Fla.) High School is rated a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is considered the 10th-best weakside defensive end in the country and the 23rd-best player in the state.

Darius West is another good get for Stoops. The safety from Lima Central Catholic (Ohio) High School is considered a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is rated the 20th-best safety in the country and the eighth-best player in the state.

Thaddeus Snodgrass is one of the top players in the class. The wide receiver from Springfield (Ohio) High School is considered a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is ranked as the 35th-best receiver in the country and the 12th-best player in the state.

Cory Johnson is another top commitment for Kentucky. The defensive tackle from Chambersburg Area (Pa.) High School is considered a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is ranked as the second-best defensive tackle in the country and the second-best player in the state.

Stanley Williams is another key component of the Wildcats' class. The running back from the George Walton Academy (Ga.) is considered a four-star prospect by the 247sports composite. He is rated as the sixth-best all-purpose back in the country and the 20th-best player in the state.

On target

Kentucky has two top targets in its crosshairs.

Matt Elam, a massive defensive tackle from Elizabethown (Ky.) John Hardin, is a consensus four-star for whom Kentucky will be going head-to-head against Alabama to sign him.

Moral Stephens, a tight end from Perry (Fla.) Taylor County is a hybrid type player and a three-star who could catch a ton of passes in Kentucky's offense.

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